The government will “look into funding support” for hauliers to recruit and train new drivers as part of George Osborne’s 2015-16 budget plan.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget report, released today, states that the government intends to “work with road haulage firms on an industry led solution to the driver shortage”.

The RHA and FTA have been campaigning for the government to address the issue of the driver shortage, and met the Treasury to make the case for a “simple, nationally available, readily accessible funding stream” last month.

However, the government announcement stopped short of backing either the training fund being pushed for by the RHA, with support from Motortransport.co.uk and the CILT, or the extension to student loans favoured by the FTA and  the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport.

Despite this, Jack Semple, director of policy at the RHA, said today’s budget report is the first “formal recognition” the government has given to the driver shortage as an issue, but that there is much work to be done on the issue.

He said: “We’ve put a very clear case as to why funding for firms towards the cost of training drivers to get licensed and qualified is necessary and appropriate, and I’d really like to thank our members for all their support on this. We will come back more strongly at the discussions that we now anticipate having.”

James Hookham, FTA’s managing director of policy and communications, said: “FTA welcomes the moves to speed up the processes associated with getting HGV drivers on the road as excellent news.

“But solving this in the longer term means attracting more young people to the industry. The cost of acquiring the necessary licence (£3,000) acts as a major barrier to many young people and we are pleased that George Osborne will work with industry to ensure funding can be provided to overcome this problem.”

The government has also said it will “review the speed with which Heavy Goods Vehicle driving tests and driver medical assessments currently take place and consider options to accelerate both”.

Jack Semple said the RHA has “flagged up the importance of streamlining the testing process, and being able to respond to an increase in demand for driver testing” to the government and the DVSA. He suggested the industry as a whole should lend its support to the DVSA in order to “ensure that process doesn’t hold the industry back”.

Hookham added: “Speeding up driving test bookings for truck drivers and medical assessments will help us get qualified drivers on the road quicker and more reliably helping industry address its shortfall of 60,000 drivers. We look forward to seeing this implemented as soon as possible.”

PwC director Andrew Norris said: “Put simply, you need people to move goods around, and so this announcement can’t hurt the chancellor's growth plans.

“There has been a recognised skills shortage for a number of years, so road hauliers will welcome this review. The next step is to make sure that momentum is not lost after the general election, and the industry will be eager to hear the next steps.”